New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde returns with an unforgettable story of courage.
Seventeen-year-old Ethan Underwood is totally unprepared to search for his father in the Blythe River National Wilderness. Not only is he small, scrawny, and skittish but he’s barely speaking to the man after a traumatic betrayal. Yet when his father vanishes from their remote cabin and rangers abandon the rescue mission, suddenly it’s up to Ethan to keep looking. Angry or not, he’s his father’s only hope.
With the help of three locals—a fearless seventy-year-old widow, a pack guide, and a former actor with limited outdoor skills—he heads into the wild. The days that follow transform Ethan’s world. Hail, punishing sun, swollen rapids, and exhausting pain leave him wondering if he’s been fooled yet again: Is his father out here at all? As the situation grows increasingly dire, Ethan realizes this quest has become about more than finding his dad.
From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes a story of nature revealing human nature—the trickiest terrain. Navigating an unforgiving landscape, Ethan searches himself for the ability to forgive his father—if he finds him alive.
This is a story of family ties, friendship and the growing up of reluctant adventurer Ethan.
I discovered this book categorised as adult fiction but upon reading it I’m convinced it is equally suitable for youngsters; although I enjoyed it a lot I feel it’s written very simply in easy to read prose with few long words it’s almost over simplified as though it’s aimed at encouraging reluctant readers to engage, in fact it would be great for this purpose.
Ethan is a young and rather scrawny lad of 17 who looks about 12. His Dad has treated him and his Mum pretty appallingly and when Ethan is told he has to go and spend a few months living with his estranged father who has moved to a rented cabin out in the wilds it’s everything the nervous and skittish lad dreads.
He is still recovering from a mugging in the busy city of Manhattan where he lives with his Mum, which has left him even more nervous and edgy than before, yet he still feels more comfortable in a city centre than he would in the middle of nowhere. He arrives in the remote rural wilderness of Blyth River range, to discover his hated father and he will be living in close confinement. His Dad doesn’t want him there and he loathes his dad for his betrayal and callous treatment of his family he’s angry and disappointed in this guy he should be able to look up to but feels let down and hurt by.
Ethan’s Mum says it will be safe there for Ethan, but how can it be? Within the first couple of days he discovers there are bears - wild GRIZZLY bears roaming around which he has to protect himself from and the only neighbours are a good stroll away and they’re all OLD, but they seem pretty friendly (if a bit scary and weird) There’s Sam an ageing trail guide who takes groups of rugged adventurers out on horseback to rough it in the wilderness. Jone, a gruff, hard as nails woman of 70 who looks 50, and is as fit as any 35 year old, and scares Ethan half to death with her no nonsense attitude. There’s a Park ranger whom Ethan refuses to even listen to, all he seems to want to do is tell him the different ways he might die if he goes outdoors and warn him not to venture anywhere without a giant tin of BEAR repellent attached to his belt.
His only real friend is Rufus his faithful hound who lives to go for long walkies but has no more bear sense than Ethan.
Then it gets suddenly a whole lot worse – his dad goes out for a mountain run one day and never comes back, and Ethan is the only person convinced he is out there in the wilds, injured and waiting to be rescued, but the only person prepared to keep the search going is this fragile and weedy little guy who can’t walk up the road on his own without mishaps befalling him.
OH my, did he have to grow up quickly! It’s fabulous to watch him deal with what life throws at him and discover his real strengths as well as face his own demons. There’s a real sense of wilderness, vast open spaces, wild animals and extreme weather, to say nothing of trails where even sure footed mules fear to tread with thousands of feet drop at the side.
This is a guileless and charming book in a wonderful setting which made me want to jump on a mule, Git out there and prove myself!
My advance copy was provided via Netgalley for review purposes.